Stormers

Rassie: ‘I haven’t changed captains’

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Stormers coach Rassie Erasmus has not made any decisions regarding the captaincy of the under-performing Super 14 franchise in 2008.

According to a report in Thursday’s Cape Argus, Erasmus has already decided to relieve Luke Watson of the Stormers captaincy, with World Cup-winning Springbok flanker Schalk Burger the man earmarked to lead the Cape-based franchise next season.

WP Rugby, however, moved quickly to dismiss the Argus’ report, with a statement labeling it “premature and purely speculative at this time, with no discussion or pronouncements on the issue having taken place”.

According to the same official statement, “a decision [on the captaincy] will only be made in December after proper consultation between the coach, management and relevant senior players”. 

Erasmus was tracked down as he is the Union’s new Director of Rugby and Stormers head coach, for his views on the captaincy issue.

Erasmus told this website: “If I decide to change captains I will talk to the players involved first.

“I don’t let any of the players under me find out about changes I have made in the media. All changes are discussed between the relevant parties first in a professional manner.

“We then issue a press release regarding any changes we may have made, the same as in all other unions.

“I think, unfortunately, that everyone wants to get the story first and so there is a lot of speculation and things like that,” he added, saying that he found it to be quite a common problem in the Cape’s media.

“I feel sorry for the players because it is very disconcerting for them.”

When asked about the possibility of change at the Stormers – and Western Province – Erasmus replied: “Of course I have ideas on how I want the side to evolve and there are things that I want to try out.”

“But as I’ve said before, it works the same as it would with any other professional Union and I have to go through management and all the other relevant parties to make any changes.”

Watson – who controversially played one Test under Jake White this year, against Samoa in June – captained WP to the semi-finals of the 2006 Currie Cup, with a young Province team flourishing under his leadership.

The 2007 Super 14, however, was a different kettle of fish as the Stormers struggled to a 10th place finish under Watson’s captaincy. The Currie Cup was also a different story for Watson this year, with injuries and an alleged fall-out with former coach Kobus van der Merwe hampering his season.

By Gareth Green 365 Digital

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